Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.See all posts »
Water Safety Basics
The summer news is already featuring some tragic deaths of youngsters who have drowned. Drowning is a leading cause of death in young people, for many reasons, most of them related to lack of supervision, and the inquisitive and risk-taking behaviors of infants, children, and teenagers. As I mentioned in a previous post, outdoor injury prevention is the name of the game. Once a submersion (under water) event has occurred and the victim is seriously ill, it is sadly often too late for rescuers and doctors to do anything that makes a big difference in survival and clinical outcome.
Here are important methods of prevention in the summer when young people will be around water:
- Supervise all young children when they are swimming or near bodies of water.
- Have all swimming pools properly fenced to prevent improper entry.
- Keep the level of water in swimming pools high enough to the edge of the pool so that a person who struggles to the side can slide his or her body up over the edge and out of the water.
- Insist that life jackets be worn whenever someone is on a boat, kayak or jet-ski; water-skiing; white-water rafting; or in any other circumstance in which they may be tossed into deep or swiftly-moving water. Maintain a lookout or lifeguard for all swimmers, water skiers, and other persons in the water.
- Insist on helmet use for all kayakers and white-water rafters.
- Do not allow diving into known or suspected shallow water, such as from rock ledges (lakes and quarries), rope swings, or diving boards.
- Do not allow the use of alcohol or recreational drugs near the water.
- Do not allow horseplay on boats, docks, or far out in a lake or ocean.
- Do not assume that swimming lessons confer protection upon young children. They still must be closely observed and supervised.
- Always swim or surf in pairs or groups.
photo by Paul Auerbach
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